Not only is Orphan Black one of the most creative television series in recent memory, it's also one of the most fluid in terms of genre. It's grounded in science-fiction, and it's definitely a mystery drama, but it can also make you laugh so hard you briefly forget about the dire situations that Sarah and the clones often stumble into. If Fox's Sleepy Hollow can mash up period drama, supernatural elements, and the buddy cop genre, it only makes sense that Orphan Black's own special blend of genres should be equally successful. The preliminary ratings for last week's Season 2 premiere were not great, but the series no longer has Doctor Who as a lead-in. It also aired on a Saturday over Easter weekend, which is why it's not particularly surprising that the episode is now breaking DVR records as everyone who recorded it catches up. Orphan Black obviously isn't as popular as Sleepy Hollow—it's on BBC America and not a regular broadcast network or major cable network, after all—but it's still nice to know that people are watching it.
This week's episode, "Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion," was just as exciting as last week's premiere, though it did pump the brakes a bit in terms of action so it could explore several characters' personal relationships. Thankfully, the hour wasted no time in answering the question of what had happened to Kira, giving us the best possible outcome for that particular storyline. Discovering that Mrs. S had trashed the house and taken Kira away to keep her safe was actually far more interesting than if we'd had to watch an extended arc of Sarah hunting down the Prolethians to rescue her.
This is something Orphan Black does often, and that it does well. Many shows drag out their "suspenseful" storylines thinking it heightens the drama, but that approach can easily cause a series to stall. Orphan Black has struck a perfect balance between longterm mysteries (i.e. the clones) and short-term ones (i.e. Kira's disappearance). The show often introduces a problem in one episode and addresses it in the next. It keeps the series feeling fresh and exciting.
Most importantly, though, this development adds another layer to the ongoing mystery to Mrs. S. Last week, I was ready to dropkick her, tie her to a chair, and interrogate her, but after seeing her protect Kira and Sarah when her "friends" were going to hand them over to the religious fanatics, I just wanted to hug her and pour her a cup of tea. When Sarah asked Mrs. S which side she was on—a fair question, give that Sarah'd just been stuffed into a trunk by a strange man and taken to the middle of nowhere—Mrs. S said, "Yours, love. It's always been yours."
Knowing that Mrs. S is an ally—and an ally who's skilled at using a shotgun, at that—is reassuring, but there's still the matter of her connection to Project LEDA and the question of why she's so protective of both Sarah and Kira. No one on Orphan Black is exactly who they appear to be. There are good and bad sides to every person—everyone has a blemish on their records—and you don't always know whether or not someone's trustworthy. We know that Sarah is capable of doing good, but we also know she's a skilled con artist. Alison hides behind a facade of suburban domesticity and perfection, but she also let Aynsley die, and oh yeah, she has a guy who sells her drugs and handguns. Art appears to be fighting on Sarah's side, but he's also a cop and Beth's former partner. Is he really helping Sarah, or does he just want to know the truth?
This theme extends to Mrs. S as well. She's possibly even more mysterious than the folks at Dyad who gave Cosima her own lab this week. When Mrs. S took Sarah in as a child, did she do so as a way to atone for sins she committed through her involvement in the cloning experiment? I'm certain she genuinely cares about Sarah's wellbeing, but why? What does it matter to her? Who is Sarah to Mrs S? She's willing to blow a woman to bits with a shotgun in order to protect Sarah, yet she also stepped aside to let Sarah leave with Kira, knowing full well that Sarah doesn't trust her any longer. It seems to me that while Sarah should be apprehensive about Mrs. S, she also feels like a good person to have on your side. There are still so many unanswered questions and it's not clear who Mrs. S even is; maybe, instead of leaving Mrs. S and taking off with Kira and Felix, Sarah should have asked for some answers.
But even more confusing than Mrs. S are the men from last week, the Prolethians. As it turns out, they're not exactly from the same group as Tomas and Helena. They believe—as Albert Einstein once said—that "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." As if we needed another group of people to emerge from this mess, here come these bozos, who are now Helena's "keepers" as she recovers. I won't say I'm really going to miss Tomas, but I'm not sure these guys are all that much better than a self-flagellator. Or course, I don't see them locking Helena in a cage, so that's at least something. And speaking of our favorite crazy person—she's a mirror image of Sarah. Literally. Her internal organs are all reversed and her heart is on the right side, which is how she survived the gunshot wound to the chest. We all understand that this genetic anomaly is also a metaphor for how she's the yin to Sarah's yang, so I won't waste too much time on it, but it's certainly interesting, and I'm certain that Orphan Black will continue to explore her status as Sarah's mirror throughout the season.
Cosima didn't have much going on this week outside of setting up her lab at Dyad and being tasked with studying Sarah's biological profile to find out why Sarah is different from the rest of the clones. Cosima assumed that Rachel wanted to know why Sarah could procreate when no one else could, but judging from the look on Rachel's face, it's more than that. Sarah's special, Kira's special, and Helena's also special. What is it about their particular creation that made them so damn special? And what happened during the cloning procedure that led to some of the clones coming down with the sickness?
Alison, meanwhile, teamed up with Felix and confirmed that Donnie was her monitor all along, which is when she crumpled under her guilt and began drinking again. "Do you have any ideas, or do you just want to keep drinking?" Fe asked her, and naturally she chose to keep drinking. God bless Felix, because without his presence, Orphan Black would risk losing itself in the action and mystery of the clones. His comedic relief and penchant for painting in the nude is a beacon of light and hope (that's two weeks in a row that Jordan Gavaris's naked ass has made it to screen, if we make it to three I'm going to start questioning what's going on over at BBC America). It doesn't matter what's happening in a scene, Gavaris immediately makes it his b*tch, and in the best way.
Take, for instance, the scene in which he tried to explain to Alison that it wasn't technically Alison's fault Aynsley died, that Aynsley was responsible for her own death. "Aynsley wore a scarf in the kitchen," he said in a way that also felt like he was judging her fashion sense and decision-making with regard to when and where it's appropriate to don that particular type of neckwear. But if anyone would know about such thing, it's probably Felix. Considering how much Sarah and Alison have come to rely on him, though, I have to wonder how long it will be until he gets fed up with the clone bullsh*t and leaves, or how long until his association with the clones puts him in harm's way. I can handle a lot, but Felix in danger is something I simply won't accept.
"Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion" quickly answered the question of what happened to Kira (who also doesn't completely trust Mrs. S at this point), and thankfully it didn't make us spend too long wondering when Alison would discover the truth about Donnie, but it also set up even more questions to be answered down the road. Sarah's not responsible for the situation she's found herself in, but it's her reality, and running away with Felix and Kira isn't going to change that. There's no escaping, but it's cute that she's going to try!
– Cosima looked proud when she discovered that Sarah had stolen Dr. Leekie's ID card in the premiere. And then she quickly tried to cover it up. I'm ready for Cosima to get to the actual science-ing portion of this whole storyline, though. We need some answers. I can't keep living my life wondering if Cosima's going to die soon, or why Sarah's special.
– I understand why Donnie is Alison's monitor, and last season his presence as her monitor felt ominous. But now he feels like a clueless pawn who's way, way out of his league. Paul made sense as a monitor, and at least he feels like a competent human being. And Delphine obviously made sense, too. But Donnie, man. The Powers That Be clearly keep him at arm's length, and only deliver instructions like, "Call if she mentions the name Sarah!" Guys, if I were Donnie, I'd be like, "Wait, this sounds really stupid. Why am I doing this again?"
– Art told Angie to drop the case after she showed him a picture of Helena. I want to trust Art, but I just can't. Not yet.
– Aynsley called book club "full-contact reading."
– Sarah to Felix: "I need you to keep telling me we can make it."
– Delphine to Cosima: "I want to make crazy science with you."
– Felix: "I can't believe you let a cop in to Clone Club."
What'd you think of "Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion"?
AIRED ON 6/21/2014
Season 2 : Episode 10